'Out On The town With G. Roy Butler'

TRAVEL

The common wisdom is that travel broadens your mind but if this is so why are returned travellers such crashing bores? Why does the returned traveller insist on boring you rigid with slight variations on recurring themes: the waiting around in airport lounge whinge; the expense of train travel in Europe whine; the difficulty of following time tables in Asia bleat. The most dismal travellers of course are the ones who go overseas to be with their own kind: the English back packers in Fitzroy pubs; the Aussie footballers in Bali nightclubs; the Japanese shutterbugs at Darling Harbour. It is my contention that not only does travel not broaden the mind, it doesn’t even maintain the mind. The mind after travel is severely diminished.
I asked Supa-computer to tell me, if I were to one day travel the world, who would be there to spoil it for me. I inputted the data – travel brochures, Lonely Planet guides etc. - and after three days of high intensity digital processing he spat out a computer card. It named these villains:

The old geezer in the late model Ford Fairlane
– The highways of the world are clogged with old buffers driving Ford Fairlanes. To the oldster army Ford is Australian, the Fairlane is top of the range and it is a V8 (vroom vroom!). BEWARE! Never overtake an old geezer in a Fairlane. You will end up in a ridiculous race with an insanely competitive senior citizen which may go on for thousands of kilometres.

The air travel old hand
– Boarding the plane he suddenly turns to his wife and says: ‘38G – that’s halfway up the plane, just above the wings in the aisle seat. ‘Really?’ she says Yeah, baby.’ He doesn’t need the stewardess to tell him where to sit! He has travelled on planes so often he already knows! And just to prove it he doesn’t pay attention when the stewardess does the emergency demonstration.

Bill Bryson – Watch out travellers! Anglo-American funny man Bill Bryson might be about. Be particularly wary of Bed and Breakfasts. One day you’ll be an anonymous traveller having breakfast with a suspiciously ebullient bearded fellow, the next you day you will be an eccentric character in a ‘humorous’ travel book.

Nick Cave – You know that feeling you get when you take your seat on a bus or a train ready for a long trip and suddenly a man sits next to you smelling of pipe tobacco and urine, and starts reading Sartre, occasionally stopping to recite a morbid poem or to inject some heroin? It’s happened to us all, I guess. Not nice.

Other Australians
– If you are overseas and you hear the word ‘girt’ then run and keep on running.

ON THE TOWN ARCHIVES